Track Guide

This guide initially displays common tracks of all shapes. Use the selectors below to view particular shapes, include rare species, or search by name.

Anything that moves over the ground leaves some sort of marking of its passage. In particular, footprints left behind in soil, snow, mud, or other ground surfaces provide a means of recognizing different species. The illustrations and characteristics listed below highlight key features that can be used to identify the tracks of many of the animals in the area.

Track References

Alderness Wilderness College
Animal Track ID [PDF]
Beartracker
Deerdance
Elbroch, Mark, 2003 Mammal Tracks and Signs: A Guide to North American Species
eNature
Gaits
Lowery, James, 2013 Tracker’s Field Guide. Falcon Guides
Nature Tracking
North Woods Guides
Outdoor Action

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

Web Development and Content Management

Pat Bacha
Jennifer Macke
Graham Mark
Akkana Peck

Contact

Please contact us for local nature questions and sightings. We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to our guides.

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Showing 3 of 29 tracks.
Badger

Drawn based upon National Park Service image

Badger

Photo: Elliot Coues

Badger

Photo: Frederique Lavoipierre

Badger

(Taxidea taxus)

Family: Mustelidae (Weasels, Badgers, and Otters)

Gait: gallop, lope, trot, walk
Form: large claws; round toes

Front Foot: 5 toes; 1.8 in (4.6 cm) - 2.7 in (6.9 cm)
Hind Foot: 5 toes; 1.5 in (3.8 cm) - 2.7 in (6.9 cm)

The first toe on all four feet is the smallest and often cannot be seen in a track. The front track is pigeon-toed.

Badger scat typically looks like a twisted rope with tapered ends but varies considerably with diet. Burrows usually have a large round entrance with a mound of dirt to one side.

Mammal Guide - Badger 
River Otter

Drawn based upon US Geological Survey image

River Otter

Photo: J.N. Stuart

River Otter

Photo: Kim A. Cabrera

River Otter, North American River Otter

(Lontra canadensis, Lutra canadensis)

Family: Mustelidae (Weasels, Badgers, and Otters)

Gait: lope, walk
Form: small claws; long toes

Front Foot: 5 toes; 2.0 in (5.1 cm) - 3.6 in (9.1 cm)
Hind Foot: 5 toes; 2.1 in (5.3 cm) - 4.1 in (10.4 cm)

The otter has large webbed feet. However, the webbing may be hard to see in a track. The little toe on the inside of the foot may not register while the interdigital and proximal pads often show.

Scat is oily, pungent, and contains remains of fish. As it decomposes, there will usually be a pile of fish scales left. Loose dirt and slides near a river bank are other signs of otter activity.

Mammal Guide - River Otter 
Weasel

Drawn based upon US Geological Survey image

Weasel

Photo: Alcide Dessalines d'Orbigny

Weasel

Photo: Connecticutbirder

Weasel

(Mustela spp.)

Family: Mustelidae (Weasels, Badgers, and Otters)

Gait: bound, lope, walk
Form: small claws; round toes

Front Foot: 5 toes; 0.7 in (1.8 cm) - 1.3 in (3.3 cm)
Hind Foot: 5 toes; 0.6 in (1.5 cm) - 1.2 in (3.0 cm)

The inside toe is smallest and registers lower than the other toes. Stride varies as weasels run and bound. The weasels stride varies since it often runs and leaps.

Weasel scat is dark brown or black. It is long, thin and segmented, often having one end tapered. Weasels often cache dead mice and voles in a burrow or under a log.

Mammal Guide - Weasel